Cultural Anthropology and Southwest Folk Art- New Mexico

An educational field trip was never much more than an oxymoron to me throughout high school. I had been to historical sites on class trips to Washington DC or Boston, but socializing was more important than listening, to the majority of the class, and it was often impossible to even hear the tour guides as we walked through museums. One of my first educational experiences at Colorado College proved my assumptions to be wrong. On a ten-day field trip through Colorado and New Mexico, I undoubtedly gained more information about Southwest Folk Art than a textbook could have provided me with. In my class, we learned about cultural anthropology through the lens of southwest folk art. Each student has a specific research topic whether it is a santo or santero, textile tradition, architecture, or tinwork. Our trip was specifically designed to aid us in our research and teach us the importance of primary sources.

After we started our drive South, we made our first stop at a restaurant called San Marcos Mexican Restaurant. Although this quick bite could be perceived as nothing more than a meal, our educational field research had truly begun. In fact, two people in our class will be submitting twenty page papers on southwestern food. Having never taken an anthropology class before, I was not conscious of all of the information I was acquiring while simply sitting and eating Mexican food. From the style of the menu to the presentation of the food, each artifact opened a door into understanding the culture surrounding it. Only upon further analysis and discussion with my professor did I truly understand the multitude of information and primary sources that a plain restaurant had provided me with. Within the first day of our trip, I had unconsciously developed my observational skills in the most interactive way possible. This experience exemplifies perfectly the kind of interactive learning that was about to take trip on our ten-day field trip.